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James Blake is now an independent artist

James Blake has revealed that he’s now an independent artist, sharing the news on his Instagram account today (April 10).

  • READ MORE: Artists on the challenges of 2023 and hopes for 2024: “I just want to see us getting paid for selling records”

The artist shared a video alongside his post, which you can watch below. In the video, Blake said “it feels good to be independent because I’ve wanted to take things into my own hands for a long time” and said he was looking forward to working more “directly” with his fans.

Blake signed with A&M Records to release his self-titled debut album in 2011 before departing to sign to Republic Records, releasing his second album, ‘Overgrown’ in 2013 followed by subsequent albumns, ‘The Colour In Anything’ (2016), ‘Assume Form’ (2019), ‘Friends That Break Your Heart’ (2021) and ‘Playing Robots Into Heaven’ (2023).

Blake wrote in the caption to the video: “After over a decade on a label it feels scary to go independent but here we are. As someone who hates spam, I promise not to send you annoying emails. Just trying to break free of the algorithm gods gatekeeping art.

“Speak soon (and sorry for the reposting.. video kept cutting short.. like I said I’m bad at this..)”

You can see his announcement in full here:

Last month, Blake said he’d reportedly found a “solution” to streaming, while also sharing some previously unheard tracks.

The announcement from the musician comes after he went viral recently for a series of posts, criticising the lack of royalties artists can make by streaming their music or sharing it on TikTok. Following the posts online, Blake began teasing that he had found a “solution” to the issue.

Now, he has revealed that this is through a newly launched platform called Vault, which allows fans to pay a monthly fee to receive unreleased music from an artist. The goal, he explained, is to allow musicians to share as much music as they like, without being restricted.

“About a week ago I went viral with a post about the effects of streaming and TikTok on artists’ ability to support themselves and I wanted to give you some figures. This is how much artists make out of streaming: Between $0.003 and $0.005 per stream, depending on the platform,” he said in a new video uploaded to X/Twitter.

“Which is one million plays equals $3,000, and if you’re assigned to a label, then imagine that number’s cut by at least 50 per cent. And after management cut – which is between 15 and 20 per cent – and taxes and recording overheads, it’s just not sustainable for an artist to focus on just their art.”

He continued: “Only 19 per cent of artists on Spotify have more than 1,000 monthly listeners. And TikTok pays artists so little that Universal just took their whole catalogue off it. I’ve been wondering, how do we sort this shit out?”

“I wanted to find a way for musicians to make money directly from the music they make … Music is not cheap to make, and I wanted to help incentivise musicians to actually spend more time making music. Also, I’ve spoken to a lot of artists that feel frustrated that so much great music goes unreleased because it doesn’t meet certain requirements or trends.”

As part of Vault’s launch, Blake has offered fans access to his unreleased music for $5 per month, and has revealed that the platform will be where he first shares information about tickets, releases and other new announcements. More features are set to be added at a later date.

At time of writing, the musician has shared three new songs on the platform: ‘We Culture Ref1’, ‘The Man Who Talks Too Much’ and ‘Olivia Kept’. Find out more about Vault on the official website.

  • READ MORE: James Blake – ‘Playing Robots Into Heaven’ review: super-producer goes back to his club roots

“So this is kind of a backstage pass of the process. It’s where you’ll hear first about ticket drops and anything else I’m doing. This thing was built fairly quickly after my outbursts on social media, so we’ll be adding features as we go along,” Blake concluded in the video.

“The concept of subscribing to an artist directly, I think, can change the game and release artists from the relentless merry-go-round of the current state of things … This is hopefully a great step towards allowing artists to be as authentic as possible whilst still making a living.”

Blake also said recently that major labels “should be required to provide a therapist to their artists”.

“Labels should be required to provide a therapist to their artists. You shouldn’t get to profit from our trauma without helping with the pitfalls of it,” he said last month.

Blake further clarified it was “major [labels]” that should do this, adding: “Live agents and managing companies too. All of them have a vested interest in the artist becoming more successful, which means disconnected from support systems/family/friends by being thrown into a strange disconnected world of touring and parasocial media.”

He went on to say: “I’m not suggesting a label provide their sanctioned therapist to be clear just that they should fund therapy. Guess I shoulda worded it that way.”

Blake himself has been open about the struggles of touring on his mental health, discussing his experiences in 2019: “There are a lot of musicians just starting out now who might not be aware of the pitfalls of touring, and the pitfalls of a musician’s life. Mental health on the road is something which has generally been left until this generation to really deal with.

“I think we’ve seen the effects of the artist’s life laid out for us in previous generations, and I think we’re just starting to go, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t use these methods to cope with it, maybe I should talk to somebody.’”

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